June 23, 2022

Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. Everyone has the right to seek safety.

Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. Everyone has the right to seek safety.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) states that we are approaching over 100 million displaced peoples world-wide. In this episode of Humans on Rights, the Executive Director of IRCOM (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba) Shereen Denetto shares her passion of about working with and supporting newcomers to Winnipeg. She has seen first-hand the incredible talents and knowledge these newcomers bring when they arrive in our community. Located in the heart of inner-city Winnipeg, the talented IRCOM team, led by Shereen provide transitional housing and wrap-around settlement supports to newcomer families. While overseeing the successful completion of a second housing complex which effectively doubled their operations, Shereen is also overseeing the 30th Anniversary of one of Winnipeg’s most important family organizations -IRCOM.

See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) states that we are approaching over 100 million displaced peoples world-wide. In this episode of Humans on Rights, the Executive Director of IRCOM (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba) Shereen Denetto shares her passion of about working with and supporting newcomers to Winnipeg. She has seen first-hand the incredible talents and knowledge these newcomers bring when they arrive in our community. Located in the heart of inner-city Winnipeg, the talented IRCOM team, led by Shereen provide transitional housing and wrap-around settlement supports to newcomer families. While overseeing the successful completion of a second housing complex which effectively doubled their operations, Shereen is also overseeing the 30th Anniversary of one of Winnipeg’s most important family organizations -IRCOM.

See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


This podcast was recorded on the ancestral lands on Treaty One territory, the traditional territory of the Anishnawbe, Cree, Oji Cree, Dakota, and the Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis nation.

This is Humans, On Rights. A podcast advocating for the education of human rights.

Here's your host Stuart, Murray monday, june 20th is World refugee day.

The U.


Human rights commissioner on refugees or the U.


Refugee agency states that we are approaching over 100 million displaced peoples worldwide.

So welcoming refugees is very, very, very critical.

Well, my guest today on humans own rights is the executive director of here, calm.

Now here.

Com stands for the immigration and refugee community organizations of Manitoba and my guest is the executive director.

Her name is Sharon Day NATO.

Now, Sharon has a great background in working in welcoming new community members to the city of Winnipeg but she's got also a very interesting educational background in that she has had a bachelor of, I guess I'm going to call it biology and psychology.

Shell, correct me if I'm wrong from the Master University and she followed that up with a Master's of Social degree at Carleton University.

She is very passionate about working in the sector that welcomes newcomers to Canada because in her opinion and I agree with her, we're going to draw this out is they bring incredible talents, knowledge and skills to our diverse country.

So Shereen Donato, welcome to humans on rights.

Thank you so much Stuart.

I'm really pleased to be here.

I know we talked a bit about a land acknowledgement if you'd like to make a land acknowledgement before we talk a little bit about your calm and your history.

Please feel free.

Thank you Stuart.

We like to acknowledge at Eircom that the land we are on is Treaty one territory and these are the traditional territories of the anus knob, the Cree, Oji Cree Dakota and any peoples and of course the homeland of the mighty Nation And you know at Eircom, what we talked about with our families and our tenants is that the water that Eircom uses comes from shoal lake First Nation 40 which is in a community that's part of Treaty three.

We also talk with our families and staff about the electricity that your com uses.

It comes from Treaty five, the homeland of the subway and swampy Cree peoples.

So you know, we really want to make those connections between the resources and the privileges that we have and how that is.

Really thanks to the you know, First Nations people that that welcome us on this land.

So before we get into, you know why we're having this conversation, I want to just make a comment right off the top screen.

I always find sometimes that those of us that were, well let's just say privileged to be born in Canada as citizens.

You know, I've gone to citizenship ceremonies.

I've listened to what you've just talked about sort of bringing new Canadians to have that understanding about where does our water come from, where does our electricity come from?

Where are we living?

And I've often thought that those of us that have actually been born in Canada could use that education.

We take so much of this for granted, we're not aware of it.

So I'm really delighted that you shared that with those that will be listening to this podcast because I do think that is really important for us to acknowledge those elements that we have taken for granted for years and years.

So so thank you so much for for doing that.

You're welcome.

Now Sharon let's talk a little bit about you and how you've navigated yourself to be the executive director of here calm.

You've obviously studied at McMaster, you studied at Carlton.

So where have you started your journey?

Where did you, where were you born, Where did you live, where did you take your undergrad or your high school education that we can start there.


So you know my parents immigrated from India.

They came as immigrants about 57 years ago now and they landed in Montreal and they were, you know, one of the first sets of Indian immigrants to to that part of the country or that city and then my father was very lucky had an engineering background.

He got a job offer confederation college in northern Ontario.

So I was raised in Northern Ontario and you know at the time this is in the early seventies, there was a zero vacancy rate, 0% vacancy rate.

So they found an old homestead for sale for about $7000 in the countryside.

So I was actually raised in rural Northern Ontario.

So it was really interesting and unique I think upbringing for immigrant kids and yeah, in the end I, I did my high school in Thunder Bay Ontario and when I graduated we had grade 13 in those days when I graduated I was accepted at McMaster University and I went to the big city with three or four friends from high school and ended up sort of moving to Southern Ontario to stay there.

Then I of course in the end did my graduate work at Carleton University in Ottawa.

And to be honest, I I always okay I did bio psych in school so kind of a typical pathway for a lot of us, you know, sort of second gen south asian kids, you know, heavy emphasis on science is becoming doctors and you know, all of those wonderful things.

But I discovered that I really had an interest and an inclination in terms of women's issues social justice.

So while I graduated with a bio side degree, I ended up my first job out of university was at a shelter for abused women and Children.

And that's where I really, I really felt that social work was was my colleague was was was where I wanted to, to to be.

And so that's why I did my masters in social work.

So that's a little bit of the history.

Yeah, I know what you did your masters at Carleton University.

So before I'm gonna ask you just what you did your what your thesis was on when you did your masters, but let's just back up to Thunder Bay, so that's where you went to school your high school.

What would be one of the memories if somebody were to say what?

Just think back at growing up as a would it be fair to call you at that point, a resident of Canada, would you and your family be residents?

Yes, yes.

By that point our family has Canadian citizenship.

Um and to be clear my brother and I were born here, so we're raised in an immigrant family, in an immigrant community, but we were born here.

So Canadian citizens.


Yeah, no, thanks for that clarification, Shereen.

But think back to Thunder Bay.

Um what would be one of the things that if you look back now on on your time and Thunder Bay, that sticks out is kind of a bit of a memory I think um you know, growing up in rural Northern Ontario, you know, there's some real strengths to growing up in a communities, rural communities, you know, so there's a lot of sense of neighborliness and you know, if the neighbor's chimney catches on fire, everyone gets a phone call and we all, you know, all the parents rush off and help put out the fire.

There are the equivalent of socials, you know, community events and corn roasts and you know, you name it.

So there's sort of a rich rural environment and we were odd ducks at times, right?

We were literally the only one of the only immigrant, you know, sort of brown skinned immigrant family growing up in that area.

You know, sometimes you felt a bit excluded, I would say and and different, but I think there were a lot of positives because of that warmth and that natural sense of, you know, connectivity that you see in rural communities moving into the city which we eventually did when I was in high school was from a teenager's perspective, probably happier.

Um Thunder Bay also, you know, there's a whole other thing happening in Thunder Bay and in many communities in Canada, which is the realities for indigenous peoples.

And one of my best friends literally growing up was indigenous, her mom would cook stew and Bannock, you know, and this this wonderful woman and family, but my friend never identified as indigenous.

There was so much, you know, and again it's sort of just pervasive and you grow up in it.

But but looking back it's pervasive racism, anti indigenous racism growing up.

So there's sort of different things that happen, you know, there's these different realities that happened.

I would also say that my family definitely face systemic sort of barriers in different ways around employment and hiring, you know, recognition, you know, But I would also say that I had a marvelous group of friends growing up in Thunder Bay.


So, so all of these things happened all at the same time and that's this complexity of of living, I guess, in a complex society.

So yeah, yeah, no, for sure.

Thank you for sharing that.

Shereen, you obviously are now in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

What brought you to Winnipeg?

So actually, my partner, he was looking for a job at the university and it was either this or Atlanta Georgia.

So I said, let's stay Canadian please.

And uh, and and no offense to any americans listening, I mean, but just, you know, of course were born in Canada and uh, you know, we're really happy to move to Winnipeg.

Of course, growing up in Thunder Bay, we were kind of familiar with Winnipeg.

It was sort of a place to go.

You know, when you're a teenager in Thunder Bay, you could go to the folk festival.

So yeah, I was really pleased that we could come here and and then we started our family here.

So it's it's been a great place to raise our kids.

Absolutely, yeah.

Well that and you know what I love about how you tie in the notion of, you know, living in rural Ontario as you were Northern Ontario.

You know, if something happens to a neighbor, everybody kind of gathers, everybody's there for the collective for that community.

And I think that that really does speak volumes about what you're currently involved in in terms of welcoming sort of new immigrants, new refugees into the city of Winnipeg.

So I would like to just explore, share in a little bit about your now the executive director of here, calm and again.

I just remind people, because sometimes we get through these acronyms pretty quick but remind people that were com stands for the immigrant and refugee community organizations of Manitoba.

So what is a bit of the history of Eircom in Winnipeg?


I'm so glad you asked Eircom started about 30 years ago.

It came out of newcomer refugee communities.

So we're very proud of our early, you know, origins at that time, the late seventies, early eighties, we had a number of arrivals from Southeast Asia.

Right, so in, in, in News they would have said Vietnamese boat people.

But you know, folks from Vietnam Leo's Cambodia escaping terrible, terrible situations.

And Canada opened its doors and accepted even more refugees than this than than when the Syrians arrived.

Actually, it was, this is a really huge number.

I think there's over 60,000 people.

It was those community based grassroots based Southeast asians living in the community.

They realized they needed services, they needed services for parents, but in particular for youth, Children and youth, so they started recreational services, drop in services after school supports for homework and they would, you know, there's funding coming down the pipes for housing.

And so they engaged with all levels of government and were able to actually build a new apartment building to house newcomers.

And our name at that time was actually Sir calm the Southeast Asian Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba.

And then a few years later into it, Eircom changed its mandate to be a bit broader.

The name changed to Eircom.

And, you know, for 30 years we've been welcoming newcomers, primarily refugees from all corners of the world.

So let's Shereen explore a couple of terms just to sort of set the stage when you look at refugee terms such as refugee, a refugee claimant or asylum seeker or immigrant.

Let's start with refugee.

What would what would a refugee just for somebody who's listening to the podcast, who is who would qualify to be a refugee.

So refugees are distinct from immigrants.

So my family came as immigrants.

They chose to come to Canada.

The point system when my parents came was just being developed.

But, you know, now there's a point system, you have to have a certain amount of cash.

You have to have certain levels of english certain occupational and educational standards and so on.

And you you have time to say goodbye to your family to prepare them to have all the good bye parties and and to go, you know, off with your suitcase full of memorabilia.

And and and and continue those connections, refugees.

It's a completely different situation.

So refugees have to leave their country of origin because of a fear of, you know, the realities of persecution and war.

And by definition of refugee as someone who has escaped their country and cannot return for fear of persecution based on their, you know, their group, their social group, their identity, their profession.

Um, and so on.

So totally different scenario.

Many of the families that we work with, they left with almost nothing.

Sometimes the clothes on their back, they may have been able to grab a few pieces of I.


All their memorabilia, their photos, they're the things that, you know, maintain continuity with generations.

They have to leave most of that behind and they end up living in refugee settings.

So they may live in other countries in a refugee camp, sometimes just more so integrated into that society or trying to.

And then the Canadian government as well as many other governments around the world except people for resettlement, primarily the refugees that come to Canada are part of this resettlement effort.

And that is done through the UNhcr the United Nations High Commission for refugees.

So, people have made a long journey.

They have not chosen this path, but there is in these cases no real chance of return.

And so they have to, you know, they have to move on.

And so Canada luckily has this humanitarian stream where we accept people as refugees and welcome them.

You know, here in Canada and people come through other means as well.

So the government takes one piece of it, which is really good.

They're called government assisted refugees.

But we also have this really wonderful system which many other countries in the world come here to learn about, which is the private sponsorship process.

And I'm sure, you know, you may be familiar with this, but a group of five people, you know, five neighbors can can be a sponsorship group, churches, mosques, temples, they can be sponsorship groups.

So communities come together and they have to provide, you know, at least for the first year, all the necessities of life for a sponsored refugee family.

It's one of the most rewarding things that that people can go through.

It's it's challenging and rewarding.

And it's a wonderful example of where Canada is really a leader in the world in terms of the sponsorship model.

The other way that there's a few other sort of more technical pathways.

But those are the two main ones.

And the third one which we were chatting a bit a little earlier are asylum seekers or refugee claimants.

So these are folks who have traveled a very difficult journey.

You know, some I've met people who've walked thousands of miles.

They may have made it on a ship to somewhere in South America.

And they have literally worked and done whatever they had to do to get across borders through the Americas, you know, through Central America and then through, you know, the U.


To Make claim at our border.

And because Canada signed on to the U.N.

Convention on Refugees, the 1951 Convention, we have a legal obligation and we believe that a humanitarian obligation to accept people's claims once they cross the border, Thank you, Sharon for for sort of laying that out.

Because I'm looking at, you know, what you're overseeing at here calm.

And of course, part of the definition of your calm is the word immigration or immigrant and refugee community.

Would you deal with asylum seekers at com.

Absolutely, yes.



So you're dealing with with all these newcomers that arrive into into Winnipeg.

And in fact, that you see in your com.


So, would you say if you were to look at where some of these immigrants or refugees, Shereen, are coming into Winnipeg?

I went to your annual report and I looked at sort of the percentage.

And there's there's I mean, there's a number of percentage that are higher than others.

And one of them, of course, is Somalia.

The other one is Syria.

And I think Eritrea?


Eritrea Atria, Yeah.

So is there is that historically Shereen being where we have seen a lot of members from the the immigrant and refugee communities come into Winnipeg, or is that changing over time.

That's a really good question.

It does change over time.

Um, but that's been pretty consistent for the last, you know, decade, at least Eritrea Somalia, South Sudan as well.

But increasingly Democratic Republic of Congo, we've seen more families from that area and you know, it does change over time.

So the Syrians for example, before 2015 16, we wouldn't have had Syrians per se.

And now we have, we have a lot of Syrians since 2015, also afghans as an example.

So Eircom, 20 years ago would have seen a wave of afghans living at Eircom and then since then, you know, less so in terms of groups of arrival, but now we have, you know, another wave of afghans arriving.

So we have recently, I think four or five families who moved into our buildings who are who are afghans.

So it does follow global trends and the composition of the building does change over time.

We just saw in the, in the news the other day that there's going to be another number of people coming from Ukraine.

Would those people be involved with your calm?

So it's very possible, interestingly the Ukrainians are coming on a on a temporary visa.

Um it's up to three years, it's a work study or even just a visitor's visa, but no one knows how long the conflict is going to last, you know, and so if so if families want to settle.

So we do work with people who want to live, who are going to live in Manitoba.

So if people want to settle and they have sort of complex sort of challenges that we can help them with.

And they have to be low income.

So, so we are a part of Manitoba housing.

So you must have there's a low income threshold that people must meet in order to move into income.

So if they meet those criteria.


Okay, so a couple of general questions, Shereen, you know, from your perspective, what has covid done for the impact on health and economic insecurity for some of the refugees and immigrants that have come to to Winnipeg?

Sure, that's a good question.

During the pandemic.

Well, the expression we've been using is, you know, last hired first fired as it is, you know, often racialized people, people of color refugees, you know, tend to be in more marginal precarious employment to begin with.

Plus they're just starting out their lives in Canada.

But of the families that that were employed a lot lost their jobs.

And honestly, two weeks into the pandemic.

You know, we could see I saw I saw tooth.

I saw families being very used to this kind of, you know, shocking alteration in our reality.

You know, so shops are closing and the streets are empty and, you know, the government is sending messages that the Prime Minister speaking every day.

So I would say our families knew exactly what this was and a lot of them if they had the means went to the grocery store and you know stocked up and made sure there, you know, no Children running in the hallways, which is always a bit of a phenomenon at Eircom, right?

No Children running the hallways, everyone kept things sort of locked down.

So there's that piece that our families were prepared.

But on the other hand, you know, within two weeks we knew families who were running out of food.

So becoming food insecure the main barrier that we saw was that everything was being shared in english, maybe english and french.

They had no idea about what is covid and what is this disease?

You know, and and and how do you prevent it?

And what, how do I get medical services now and how do I know, what do I do?

And they didn't know about the serb for example and other income support.

So that's where we were able to fill the gaps and we actually changed and adapted and created new services to help the the, you know, these kinds of arising needs.

So I would say our families, you know, super resilient.

They managed the pandemic really well.

But it was a tough time And you can you can still see the impacts, you know, today I asked the question Sharon because when we were kind of intel just used the term lockdown, you know, people can take away from that, how they see it.

I mean, everybody had an impact.

But when we were sort of asked by governments to kind of stay home and and really not go out and be social.

And I know that there were a couple of schoolyards that had some family.

I'll just say young people playing soccer and you know, they would be people of color.

And I would say, potentially and again, I apologize, this is a very generic general statement, which is not a good thing to do.

But I would suggest that perhaps they could be refugees or immigrants.

And you know, the comment was to your point, if there's a language barrier, they don't know that there's a there's a quote unquote kind of lockdowns may be too strong of a word Sharon.

But there's a recommendation a strong recommendation for governments to not socialize and to stay at home rather than go out and be social and be doing things like playing soccer.

Those kinds of, you know, observations for passerbys.

You rush to judgment and you say, well, you know, what kind of quote unquote what's wrong with those people?

Well, there's frankly nothing wrong with them.

But to your point, there is barriers to understanding and communication.

And so you deal with that quite often I would assume besides being with the covid situation.

Yes, absolutely.

We always provide interpretation with our services because again, become as an immigrant, you you have a certain level of english.

Your primary applicant will always have a level of english.

Whereas refugees, um, many would not have have english yet.

So we provide interpreters.

And when covid, when the pandemic happened at the beginning of it, we took our whole interpreters pool and we created this new service.

We called it the inter I.


Interpreters and first language service.

So what we did was created a script.

So I helped write the first script.

And it was what is covid?

What are the rules now?

What are the penalties?

You know, and how to keep your family safe kind of thing.

Then we trained up the team.

So the next day was the training 20 something languages being spoken.

And then we gave them the phone lists and they called one by one by one I think in the year and a half that we kept this running.

We made over 4000 phone calls to folks both living at Eircom and if anyone needed help in the surrounding community.

Of course we called them so they could hear here in their own language.

You know, accurate information about covid about the pandemic about opportunities as well as you know, ways to keep your family safe.

It was a complete gap.

It was it was just completely missing.

And we worked with other partners in the community videos were created.

We did tons of vaccine awareness.

Unfortunately as you know, there's a ton of misinformation.

It's not in all languages.

So we really tried to be that credible source of information ourselves and many other partners in the sector just so that people could get vaccinated.

And actually we were super successful.

We worked with the province and we worked with health and they found that while bipac peoples had, you know, higher rates of covid infections at the beginning of the pandemic, they had much higher like higher rates of vaccination as we moved into all that promotion and awareness and engagement.

So I think that was really that we had some real successes in all of that adapted work that we did with communities.

So, yeah, but it's been quite the journey.

I would say a lot of learning.


For all of us, you know, sharing for all of us, you know, for sure, you talk about families that come to your calm, the refugee families.

You know, some of the research I've done says that a lot of refugees are women and Children.

Would you say that you see that in your com or do you see mostly families and I'm defining families kind of in the nuclear kind of couple of parents with Children.


And I should have defined it like our mandate is to serve families.

So if someone comes as a single person, which you actually see, you know fairly often, especially with claimants crossing the border.

We do not, you know, we are that's our mandate is to serve families and that, you know, we would refer folks to other places if so, and people can live with us for three years.

It's a transitional housing model.

And in that time they get wrapped around holistic services to help them, you know, integrate.

So in terms of your question, families, Yes.

And we, you know, as long as they have a dependent in the family, they would it could be a single parent, it could be a single parent and her brother, her adult brother has been able to come with a couple of kids or Yeah, so any configuration of family And almost 30% of our buildings are single parents mainly led by families led by women.


Hmm, interesting.

And again, since you've been involved in this for a long time, is that a trend that you see changing or is that a trend that you've seen that is fairly, I'll just use the term stable that you have seen no change there.

I think when the Syrians arrived, we saw a lot more coming as uh, you know, as couples as families, you know, with both parents.

So, as I mentioned, about 30% of our families are, you know, single parents mainly led by women.

That leaves another 70% that are are not that have two parents.

So, you know, part of it is when when we talk about the humanitarian stream of of accepting refugees, Canada has increasingly prioritized folks who need more supports, who are in really unsafe situations, um desperate situations because those refugee camps are huge, huge places.

So, Canada prioritizes people who who who who are really on the margins even in those settings.

And could really use the supports that we can provide.

You know, Eircom is a really good place for that.

Because imagine having neighbors down the hallway, you know, all of them have kids, you can have people sharing babysitting and child watch minding you can learn about You can learn about people from all over the world at your com their parts of the model that are so unique.

So, you can literally meet people from 21 different countries under the same roof.

And that teaches you a lot about multiculturalism in Canada.

Right, for sure.

So, Shereen, you talk about this holistic wrap around service, just, you know, do a bit of a deep dive into that.

What does that look like for a family that arrives at Eircom, what does that mean to them?

A family that arrives at your com will have, you know, a meeting like anyone else, but I guess about tendency so, you know, to sign the lease and to learn about what it means to be an ear common.

And at that point we do describe it's a three year stay in this time.

Please take advantage of all of these services that are literally at your doorstep.

And and families of course are really happy to hear about this.

So they move in and then we have a settlement team who will meet with them fairly soon after move in and have what's called a sort of an intake, meeting a needs assessment where you just get to meet the family, build some connections and learn a bit about their story and talk about their goals.

And you know, the big ones are of course learn english, have my kids in school or daycare, get a job or get training or re, you know, accreditation and so on.

Those are usually the big ones.

Um, sometimes sponsoring family members is another goal that comes along and then our team will meet with them periodically in the home.

So it's very accessible, right?

And inevitably there will be tea cookie snacks served.

But you know, we just meet with the family, build that connection and follow them through the full, you know, three years.

By the time you're at 2.5 years it's a pre departure visit and by that point the family, you know, they've had 2.5 years of english under their belts.

They've participated in community outings where they get to go to pursue and they get to go to the library and to Cindy clawson.

So they're learning a bit about what you can do with your family in Canada.

They might have participated in uh, we have a family, family family to family volley entire program.

So Canadian families are matched with newcomer families and you get to make direct connections with Canadians who show you the ropes right and take you out.

And also a lot of times connect you with with job tips or you know different kinds of, you know, like school school tips, you know, it's all of these things are are new to our parents.

So in that time they would also access our asset and capacity building programming.

So we work with seed Winnipeg, a fantastic organization, um, Cinnabon Credit union and of course the United way this asset building programs were sort of considered the newcomer hub for the city of Winnipeg.

So we do serve folks who live in the buildings but also who live in the broader community and you can participate in savings circles and, and, and you know, save money, get match savings and buy an important asset for your family.

If you go to the next level, you can save towards your educational costs for yourself or your Children.

You know, the money management training, I wish all of us had access to that right?

You know, the pitfalls of credit, but the need for credit, you know, to establish your credit rating, all of those things, talking to your kids about money, the best topics.

So financial empowerment is a big piece of it.

Settlement in general is a big piece after school programs if you are at home, you know, the kids can come home have a quick snack upstairs, they run down to program.

So from 4 to 6 we have Children's school age programming for Children 6 to 12 and it's diverse.

It's arts and crafts and Children's literacy and environmental stuff and greening and you name it.

And then from seven till nine we have youth programming.

So you know, you don't really want to hang out with school age siblings.

So we have youth programming a little bit later into the evening again of wide variety of activities.

The two things that we're very proud about our sports teams.

We have at least three boys and one girls soccer teams who do really, really well in league soccer and we have also a very strong homework program.

So I'm telling you, even on a friday night, I will drop in on program and there will be kids, they're getting one on one support.

It's led by an accredited teacher seba.

It's a fantastic program and really makes a difference in these kids lives.

Yeah, wow, sounds amazing.

And and the other piece I think that we need to talk a little bit about is Eircom has an anniversary coming up.

Tell us what anniversary it is.

And tell us what it's about.

Thanks for asking because we're very excited about our 30th anniversary.

So every summer we do have a summer celebration and it is the apex of, you know, the year for us.

We close the place down and we have an outdoor celebration at our first site at com L.


95 Ellen this year it's a little bit bigger.

So we're going to make it our 30th celebration.

So we have tours that we're offering from two till four and sorry, the whole thing happens on thursday june the 30th, So from 2 to 4 we are going to offer tours to anyone the general public, anybody at all, Yeah, anyone at all.

You know, what's it like inside Eircom and where do things happen and what does the tenant sweet look like?

You know and look at our gardens that are happening on on five balconies, you know, we have a whole greening program every summer, so anything and everything.

And then the celebration starts with sort of a stage and a program from four till eight and we'll have carnival games and Tana and face painting and all of that fun stuff as well.

Our high school grads will receive their scholarships, those who graduated receive a scholarship from income And well we're also launching a really amazing project called 30 stories of migration.

So we were really lucky to get a grant from the Winnipeg Foundation, I think it's called the centennial grant and we've contracted with an amazing audio visual sort of specialist Mandela quit and he and his team have been interviewing past tenants, passport members, staff who are now tenants, you know, a whole range of people who have been involved at Eircom over 30 years and so those stories are going to be shared by social media and I think it's going to go live on the day of so we're still planning all of this, but it's going to be super exciting.

Well, it's amazing, Shereen.

Um and I I want to ask you one sort of last question, but I just wanted to come back to something because you talk about your com being sort of a three year transition.

So would that mean that for families that you know, that have a chance to learn english that have a chance to sort of see the community, you know, opportunities to support to go out and look for for jobs.

And one of the things I know that gets said time and time again is that when these people come here, they're highly, highly qualified.

I think it's a bit frustrating, they cant sort of immediately go to a profession that they've been highly trained in, but such as another conversation that you and I can have but sharing at the end of three years and maybe before for those that are fortunate to transition out, are there those from Time to time that just really struggle on that 3rd year To be honest, the number one feedback from tenants upon move out because we do exit interviews is they really wish they could stay longer and we worked with a researcher dr Jill buckley shock who did this, you know, did follow up interviews with tenants who had moved out.

So it's a bit beyond our capacity.

But with a researcher, it was amazing.

And a lot of them said that it was it was hard, it's hard to go out into the community.

And there's a secondary process of integration that has to happen into your new local neighborhood, new schools, new, you know, so that part is a little bit hard.

And from that research, you know, it's given us some thought about about how we connect people when they move out.

But for the most part we've not had maybe minor extensions here and there, but it's it's not been that bad.

We really try to have that conversation from day one onwards.

And I would say, you know, one of the remarkable statistics if I could share one is that Before the pandemic for the three years before the pandemic, we looked at move out statistics and we found that 12-15% of our families were moving into home ownership, which is remarkable.

New to the country.

They come as refugees.

They participate in all the financial empowerment services.

I would say usually the families that manage this are you know, already well educated, highly qualified people.

So they save money.

They participate in those financial empowerment programs and are able to put down enough money on a mortgage and and buy a home.

Which is remarkable, incredible.


That's a great stat.

I mean, that really is because I think a lot of people wouldn't have any clue to what percentage that would be.

And that's you're talking about home ownership.

Yeah, no good for you.

That's fantastic.

Thanks for sharing that.

You know, one of the things obviously 1/30 anniversary celebration, so much positivity that has come through here calm and the fact that, you know, you're leading that organization.

I wondered if I could just ask you this question for those that would be listening as the executive director of ear.


What do you want?

The listeners of this podcast to think about on world refugee day.

I would say that I think we have to hold fast to our identity as Canadians, as people who are humanitarian, you know, as people who are caring of others and what is happening around the world.

And perhaps it's people who are savvy about what are the root causes of some of those conflicts.

You know, that that there are not two separate things that were connected and that, you know, we all share responsibility in receiving refugees.

So I would really hope that we would see it as a strength and a pillar of being a Canadian.

And I wanted to also maybe make a comment about at your com we really have worked at in connecting with indigenous communities.

It's a really complex thing that we're navigating.

But we see it as really important that when we welcome newcomers and refugees, that we also make sure that they have really accurate good information about the strengths and the world views and the histories of indigenous peoples, about the living vibrant culture all around us.

That's really, really an important piece of it.

Just this past weekend, we took two bus loads over 100 newcomer families, parents and Children to the Manitowoc B And that was with the support of Clayton.

Sandy Knowledge keeper.

Clayton Sandy, amazing man.

He's an amazing person.

We feel really lucky the day that we connected with Clayton and he took time out after dancing, traditional dance.

He came and spoke and did a teaching circle, you know, with our families just on the side of this amazing experience.

You know, but it too was really powerful that he answered every single question they had.

So I would just say that welcoming refugees is at the heart of what it means to be Canadian.

And I hope it always stays that way.

And that we don't fall prey to sort of the myths and misinformation and that it's this wonderfully rewarding thing to be a part of whether you're at the periphery of it.

Whether you end up sponsoring a family, whether, you know, neighbors down the road who are originally refugees.

I think it's a really wonderful thing.

Thank you so much for kind of wrapping this episode up with those comments.

I should say that world refugee day is is slated for monday, june 20th.

I think it falls on june 20th every, every year.

So you've given us something great to think about.

You've really provided a wonderful background to to hear.

Com what it's about, who you are as a as a wonderful leader, Shereen.

And I just want to thank Sherry Green Day Netto, who is the executive director of Eircom, the immigration and refugee community organizations of Manitoba for a wonderful conversation.

And please know you are greatly greatly appreciated you and your team for what you do in this community.

So, thank you very, very much.

You're very welcome and thank you so much Stuart.

This has been a really great opportunity.

A wonderful conversation.

Thank you.

Talk soon.

Okay, talk to you soon.

Humans on Rights is recorded and hosted by Stuart, Murray.

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Thanks also to trick seem a bit you in music by Doug Edmond for more, go to human rights hub dot C A produced and distributed by the Sound off media company.

Hi, I'm Matt Kendell host of the sound off podcast, the podcast about broadcast every week since 2016.

We've been bringing on broadcast leaders to talk about their experiences in radio, what they've seen and where they believe it is all going if you live in love.


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